We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us. – Anonymous
My car’s licence plate reads “Travelgal,” which prompts those who don’t know to ask if I am a travel agent. “No,” I respond, “I just love to travel.”
When I was younger, travel was not a priority. I was born, grew up and was educated from Hebrew day school to university in Ottawa. I have never lived anywhere else. When I wasn’t at school, I was working. Travelling wasn’t an option as my time and resources had to go into work and school. Once I was married with a busy career and family life, those few precious vacation weeks were focused on family time and relaxation. As with many of my contemporaries, our travelling was confined primarily to the other “holy land” – Florida. I went to Israel for the first time with my husband when I was 40. The spark to travel, explore and experience was ignited in many ways by that life-altering trip.
This was followed by trips to Europe, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Italy, the U.S., Spain, Malta, the Caribbean, China, and South America.
Why is travel the topic of my column? And what relationship is there between my passion for travel and my role and responsibilities as Chair of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa?
Perhaps I can best explain by referring to my most significant experiences, over my term as Chair, where travel and Jewish communal work were intertwined.
Most recently, I had the honour of participating in the first joint Federation partnership with the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project trip to Israel. As Lenora Zelikovitz, a Federation Board member and participant on the trip, wrote in the January 23 edition of the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin, “This experience has only solidified my involvement in my community and my commitment to Israel.”
Like Lenora, I got to connect on the ground with 35 other Ottawa Jewish women from the widest spectrum of our community. This also gave me chance to showcase what Federation is, what we do and why, how their donations make a difference to inspire and increase engagement.
Last March, while on a trip to Argentina, I had the unique opportunity of attending the World Jewish Congress (WJC) plenary in Buenos Aires. How incredible to be able to network with Jews from more than 200 countries worldwide, including a large contingent from across Canada. In addition, meeting the newly elected president of Argentina, the president of Paraguay, and Ronald Lauder, the world-renowned chair of the WJC, was both a thrill and a humbling experience. The ultimate highlight was then being able to host Ambassador Lauder here in Ottawa at a Federation event.
There were numerous more travels and resulting connections that took place over the past 18 months with similar outcomes.Volunteer work and travel experiences are inextricably linked for me. They both provide me with the opportunity to learn and grow as a person and increase my effectiveness in my role in the community.
Let me leave you with this thought from Mark Twain: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness … Wholesome charitable views of people and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s lifetime.”
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to live my passions, while benefitting our community.